Gud Ritin Sells Buks.

Posted: October 8, 2014 in The Write Stuff

What makes a Good Story?

Ask a hundred people and you’ll get a hundred different answers. Character.  Plot.  Compelling prose.  Action.  Tension.  Conflict.  Danger.  Theme.  Out of those hundred answers, every single one is correct, for there is not a defined model at which everyone can point and say, “Yep, that’s it.”

There are examples, of course. Each classic from Steinbeck’s or Hemingway’s or Shakespeare’s collection can demonstrate one way of creating a good story.  Best selling authors like James Patterson or Dean Koontz have developed their own model, and yet neither are so universally loved that they can represent the archetype of a Good Story.

Two of the most successful works of the modern era, Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, were so poorly written—from the standpoint of compelling prose—as to be all but unreadable, however each has sold millions of copies and have been spun off into movies and action figures and t-shirts.

Author Matt Hilton writes action scenes the way a monkey paints a wall, and yet he has six or more novels on Barnes and Noble shelves. The writing of James Patrick Hunt is so bland, the ingredient list on a can of soup holds more tension, but Hunt has over a dozen novels published through a mainstream house.

They found the magic formula.

I take great pains to craft every sentence. I make use of symbols to create a sense of mood.  I “play act” dialogue in my head until the speech becomes as real as speech can be in a novel.  I find ways to spark up descriptive sentences to avoid bland vanilla writing.  Point-of-view is examined in depth.  Adverbs are hunted down and killed with extreme prejudice.

And then I see the commercial success of a head-hopping, adverb-abusing, weak-voiced, was-describing piece of shit and I just want to go ber-SERK.

Where’s that secret formula? Somebody needs to fork it over because it would sure save me a lot of time.

  1. Good post and so very true!!


  2. Margaret Fulkerson says:


    I feel your pain. But remember, although Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray were successful, they are gone quickly from our minds. The really well written books are with us for generations and generations – C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit series and (I bet) the Harry Potter series. Those writers took (and continue to take) readers to incredible worlds and are the pinnacle that authors wish for and the level that readers hope every book will reach. We settle for the bad stuff, but we never forget and are in search of the good stuff – all the time. Don’t give up your hard work. It will be appreciated!!!!

    cid:image001.jpg@01CBE969.8A8019C0 Margaret Fulkerson

    Property Accounting Manager

    Crest Commercial Real Estate, Inc.

    9319 LBJ Fwy, Ste 106

    Dallas, TX 75243

    214-696-6677 x302

    214-696-6678 FAX


  3. Patricia Bell says:

    Secret is there is no secret way to success. Only a lot of hard work, disappointment, determination and soul searching – all of which you are familiar with. Just keep trying – you will make it. We have faith in your abilities and hope to share in the joy when it does happen.


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